It’s time-consuming. It’s brutal. It’s humbling. But these are the things that bodybuilders are willing to endure in the name of a little extra mass, which is why we had no hesitation constructing our “Add 1″ to Your Arms…In a Day” feature in the July issue of FLEX. It may seem like an outrageous sales tactic but we guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.
The ultra-practical workout skeleton, which uses basic dumbbell and barbell moves and an adjustable bench, is draped with sinewy exercise tactics that include cumulative time under tension, supersets, grip changes, high reps and rep-speed alterations. The result is an Olympia-sized routine that delivers results fast when paired with the right nutrition and supplements.
We know that there are some of you out there who will doubt a cover line, or even a final-product story. Skepticism is healthy when it comes to physique-building. That’s why we’re laying out the finer points of the science behind the program here – so you can be as cerebral as you are strong.
The reason this program works in the short term has to do with muscle swelling and inflammation. Anytime you work out and do enough reps your muscles swell up. This is known as the muscle pump. You’ve definitely experienced this immediate gain of about an inch or so on your arms when you’ve trained. It’s not due to blood filling up the arms as most bodybuilders recite. The pump is actually due to the metabolites or waste products that build up inside the muscle fibers. These metabolites are formed from the breaking down of carbs, fat and protein for fuel. The build up of these metabolites inside the muscle cell causes the fluid that surrounds the muscle cells (known as the interstitial fluid) and the fluid in the blood to be drawn into the muscle by the process known as osmosis. So much water rushes into the muscle cells that they swell up like balloons. This type of swelling (the pump) typically only lasts a few hours at best.
This program takes the muscle pump to a whole new level due to the volume and frequency you are training your arms with. With so many sets and reps of biceps and triceps work done at every 20-minute block for six consecutive hours, the muscles are being overworked. This causes severe muscle damage. Muscle damage is similar to any injury in that the body mounts a defense to heal it. This involves the congregation of specific white blood cells and proteins that cause inflammation in the muscles. Inflammation is a fancy term for swelling. And so in addition to the muscle pump swelling, you also experience muscle damage swelling. This swelling from inflammation can last up to a week or so, meaning your arms will remain bigger than they are right now – by about an inch – for up to a week. But this is still considered somewhat short term as far as maintaining bigger arms goes.
The “Add an Inch” routine works to keep your arms bigger on the long term due to stretch. Not stretching like you do to stay flexible, but the stretch the muscle swelling from the pump and the inflammation places on the muscle membrane. Each muscle fiber, also called a muscle cell, is enclosed by a membrane. When the inside of the muscle cell fills up with fluid it swells like a water balloon and that swelling places a considerable amount of stretch on the muscle membrane. This is much like the stretch placed on a water balloon as it fills with more and more water. But unlike the water balloon, the muscle cell membrane will not pop. Another difference is that the muscle cell membrane contains mechanical sensors in it that senses the stretch that is placed on it from the excess fluid. This causes the muscle membrane to send a signal to the DNA inside the cell nuclei (muscle cells have more than one nucleus) to increase protein synthesis, which results in greater long-term growth of the muscle cell in an effort to make room for the excess fluid. This is the gist of why this program works to create bigger arms that last.